The NAvion was the first civilian aircraft manufactured by North American Aviation, famous for producing legendary military aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang fighter, AT-6 Texan trainer, B-25 Mitchell bomber, and F-86 Sabre Jet fighter.
The NAvion is a rugged aircraft with excellent short and rough field capabilities, good range, and capacity for 4 people along with reasonable cargo. NAvions are a dream to fly like all North American aircraft: light on the controls and perfectly harmonized in all axis of flight.
The same qualities that made it attractive to civilian buyers caught the attention of the U.S. Army that was looking for a “flying pickup truck” for “liaison” duties such as personnel transport and light cargo, ther US Army requested the Air Force place an order for a military version of the NAvion. 83 aircraft were ordered in 1947 and given the military designation L-17. Faced with demand for the F-86, North American sold the NAvion design and tooling in July 1947 – along with about 60 uncompleted aircraft – to Ryan Aeronautical, famed producer of the Spirit of St. Louis as well as WW II trainers such as the PT-22 Recruit.
N4956C was built by North American at Miners Field, Los Angeles now LAX in 1946 and is one of the first off the production line (SN344). After a number of years in Mexico it she was returned to the US and had multiple owners before being acquired by Gordon Spooner who imported then restored her to her present superb condition. Simon Tilling acquired her in 2022. She is painted to represent an L17 servicing with the US Army during the Korean War.
Simon came late to flying after a number of successful years and various championship wins racing sports prototype race cars. He obtained his PPL in 2015 in 6 months after an air experience flight gift from his wife Alison. Having obtained his PPL he looked around for something to satisfy his competitive streak and handicap air racing was an obvious choice. He had his first air race in May 2016. In 2017, his first full year saw him finish second in the coveted King’s Cup. He became British Air Racing Champion in 2018. In 2022 he won the Queen’s Cup air race at the race at Old Warden.
In 2019 he obtained his Display Authorisation and has displayed a number of aircraft including his Bulldog, Chipmunk, Auster, Yak 52 and North American Navion.
Earlier this year he took over as CEO of the Light Aircraft Associatio